It isn’t walking into an unknown future that’s scary. It’s the leaving.
There are few things harder than saying goodbye. Goodbye to people you love. Goodbye to a life you knew. Last week I went to a funeral and watched my childhood friends and next-door neighbors say goodbye to their mom. Goodbyes are really, really hard.
Yesterday I made a difficult decision. I can safely say the hardest decision I’ve ever made. Now I have to say goodbye to my team. I must let go of work I’ve been doing for more than 25 years and embrace an unknown future. I can’t even imagine the words coming out of my mouth. It isn’t the decision that is making my stomach do back flips. I stand solidly behind my choice. No, the pit in my stomach comes every time I picture the farewell. It’s a sinking feeling I get when I chat with a teammate, a friend, who doesn’t know my internal struggle or can’t hear my heart screaming, “I don’t want to leave you!” The goodbye will only sting them for a minute. I know my team will continue joyfully enjoying their work and each other — their hearts fully intact. It’s mine that will remain silently shattered.
It’s not the jump
nor the landing.
The fall exhilarates,
then the world solid
beneath your feet.
No, it’s not the ground
it’s the goodbye.
— 2/16/18 TC
“Mud season” in the mountains — fewer people and an evolving glacial landscape marks time for me.
Some things never change. Not true. Everything changes. Some things just change at a glacial pace. No where helps me grasp this more than my frequent stays in Breckenridge, Colorado—a town and environment I’ve watched change slowly over my entire life. I’ve watched Uncle Frank’s house turn into the Starbucks on Main Street. I’ve watched ski tickets go from $12 to $120. I’ve watched restaurants make it and break it. I’ve watched my children turn from toddlers to men.
My sons named this magical place Rock Island more than 15 years ago. It is still the place they run to first when we visit Breckenridge.
Time changes everything. Sometimes we mourn the loss. Other times we rejoice in the new. As I spent a crepuscular moment this Mother’s Day dawn sitting by a new beaver dam, I was giddy with excitement. I’ve never been able to examine a beaver dam so close before. It was remarkable. Those industrious rodents completely changed the landscape. They made a whole new environment for a host of other creatures to inhabit. As much as I wanted to see a beaver, I knew my chances were slim, but I was able to watch a muskrat dart happily in and out of his home along the bank.
A stellar crepuscular moment and an amazing change to the stream on the way to Rock Island.
Changes sometimes happen so slowly they are hard to recognize, like the snow eroding away the mountains. Other times they are shockingly quick and life-altering, like this dam. I felt both today, as my feet post-holed into melting snow near Crystal Lake and as I listened to my grown sons now navigate their lives in their own way—a way that will change mine forever. I’m swimming in a new pond. It’s a pond they built for me. It’s different here. Everything changes.
This muskrat (crepuscular) takes advantage of the new pond created by his friend the beaver (nocturnal).
It’s still a house, but it’s no longer a home.